Opening Acts: June 20, 2018

FHJC and Parkoff Organization Settle Fair Housing Lawsuit

AGREEMENT ENSURES COMPLIANCE WITH FAIR HOUSING LAWS

Today, the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) announced that a settlement has been reached with the defendants in a federal fair housing lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) in October 2017. The lawsuit, filed by the FHJC and three African American testers, alleged that The Parkoff Organization and various principals and affiliates violated federal, state, and local fair housing laws. The lawsuit was filed after multiple testing investigations found evidence of discrimination based on race, source of income, and familial status in rental buildings owned and operated by the defendants.  The defendants and their affiliates own more than 60 residential properties throughout New York City.

While denying any wrongdoing, the defendants consented to a three-year agreement, so ordered by the Hon. Frederic Block, that provides a variety of injunctive relief, including, but not limited to:

  • Agreement to not discriminate against persons on the basis of race, color, lawful source of income and/or familial status; and to apply neutral policies, procedures, requirements, rules and regulations to all persons who inquire about apartments to rent, submit applications for rent, or rent at Parkoff properties;
  • Adoption of an equal housing opportunity policy, distributed to all persons directly involved in leasing apartments at any of the properties, and all building superintendents at the properties, except to a brokerage agency that is an independent entity from the defendants;
  • Addition of a nondiscrimination policy statement in all leasing applications and written materials, and inclusion of a fair housing logo in all advertisements;
  • Placement of both a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) fair housing poster and a New York City Commission on Human Rights poster in the defendant’s office and in a plainly visible and public area in the defendant’s properties;
  • Maintenance of rental records available for inspection by the FHJC;
  • Notification of agencies that serve populations with rental subsidies that tenants with rental subsidies are welcome to apply at Parkoff properties;
  • Fair housing training for all employees of Parkoff directly involved in the renting and/or managing of apartments in the properties; and
  • Elimination of the defendant’s Lead Testing Policy, requiring prospective applicants to submit lead paint test results for any children under the age of seven in their households, and a reimbursement of any costs incurred by tenants impacted by the policy since January 1, 2014.

The settlement agreement also includes a total monetary recovery of $315,000, including damages, attorney’s fees and costs.

FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg stated, “We are pleased with the outcome of this litigation and satisfied that the agreement will help to ensure that the defendants’ policies and practices fully comply with local, state, and federal fair housing laws.”

The plaintiffs are represented by Mariann Wang and Heather Gregorio of Cuti Hecker Wang LLP.

The mission of the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), a nonprofit civil rights organization, is to eliminate housing discrimination; promote policies and programs that foster more open, accessible, and inclusive communities; and strengthen enforcement of fair housing laws in the New York City region.